Dayne Zorko has declared Melbourne remain the AFL benchmark as Brisbane aim to snap an eight-year, nine-game AFL losing streak at the MCG.
The Lions have climbed to top spot on the ladder ahead of Thursday night’s heavyweight clash, rising as the Demons have endured a three-game losing skid.
And another opportunity presents itself on a rare trip to the home of football.
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Aside from a light training run on Wednesday, it has been more than two years since the Lions last set foot on the MCG, and almost eight years since they won there.
“Since Chris Fagan has taken over we’ve gone through all the different venues and teams and places that we haven’t won in a while,” Lions captain Zorko said.
“This is the last one on that list so it will be great to tick it off.
“It’s a great opportunity for us.
“Our record isn’t great here but at the same time we don’t play here a hell of a lot.
“If you want to win the grand finale you’ve got to get the job done here and that’s certainly what we’re going out to do.”
Melbourne have lost their aura of invincibility over the last month through losses to Fremantle, Sydney and Collingwood, while also dealing with the fallout from Steven May’s restaurant brawl with teammate Jake Melksham.
“That probably unites the team more than anything,” Zorko said.
“That’s one thing I know about playing groups and things that happen on the inside.
“They’ll be up for the challenge, they’ll be excited, they’ll be galvanized, and we’ll need to be at our best.”
All-Australian defender May returns against the Lions after serving a club-imposed suspension, bolstering a Demons outfit that has lost captain Max Gawn (ankle) to injury, while Sam Weideman and Toby Bedford are also back.
Melbourne are in second spot and can move back to the summit with a win Thursday night.
“They’re deserved favourites, there’s no doubt about that,” Zorko said.
“They’ve been in front by close to five goals in all those games that they’ve lost.
“They’re playing that best football in the competition at the moment and I think everyone below them, including us, has to be at their absolute best to beat them.
“Obviously teams over the last few weeks have shown us a pathway to do that.”
Zorko is sidelined by a hamstring injury and Darcy Gardiner, who was hospitalized after the Lions’ win over the Saints with fluid in his lungs, will also miss the clash.
Debutant Jimmy Tunstill, taken 41st in last year’s draft, is among the inclusions with Jack Payne and Thomas Berry.